Transformative change

As digitalisation has become increasingly indispensable, more and more actors have recognised the need to actively shape its path. This has led to the emergence of a variety of sustainable digital alternatives. They are based on visions from civil society, such as democratic control, equitable access, and commons-based models for operating digital infrastructures. However, these alternatives often remain niche due to dominant narratives and socio-technical structures that benefit private, larger corporations focusing on profits rather than the common good.
This chapter therefore explores how transformative change can be pursued in different ways and at different societal levels. Contributors recognise that practices need to change, and so do our existing mindsets, paradigms and underlying structures. As Nesterova, Beyeler and Niessen point out, change processes are dynamic and processual. We need nonbinary thinking and a fruitful dialogue, that includes different approaches such as degrowth, sufficiency und circularity. New circular economy practices that enable us to reuse, repair, and recycle products are an important aspect of driving change, as Zimmermann and Voigt demonstrate for open source hardware. The same holds true when implementing a sustainable digital infrastructure, as Sørensen and Laser argue, where new practices, for example on the organisational level, are necessary. Stürmer, Tiede, Nussbaumer, and Wäspi highlight the need for structural changes, such as the provision of infrastructures and suitable long-term financing mechanisms to create public digital goods. The structural transformation must also include reducing social inequalities that are reproduced in the digital age, as Rahman illustrates. She introduces a new concept of how start-ups and large technology companies can work together constructively to reduce global inequalities.

Friederike Rohde & Vivian Frick
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